The perfect family vacation to Argentina combines city activities with adventures in the great outdoors. This brisk six-day itinerary offers precisely that as you and the brood will discover Buenos Aires on walking tours before jetting south to the Lake District and the alpine resort city of Bariloche. From there you'll explore the surrounding lakes and mountains plus brave the rapids on a whitewater rafting trip.

Highlights

  • Take an informative and exciting walking tour of Buenos Aires
  • Stroll the streets of Bariloche, the most beautiful alpine city in Argentina
  • Go kayaking on a lake and end the day with a nature hike
  • Tour the mountains and lakes around Bariloche
  • Go whitewater rafting on the Río Manso

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Buenos Aires! Buenos Aires
Day 2 Fly from Buenos Aires to Bariloche Bariloche
Day 3 Kayaking & Trekking on Mascardi Lake Bariloche
Day 4 Bariloche History & Nature Tour Bariloche
Day 5 Rafting the Río Manso Bariloche
Day 6 Bariloche to Buenos Aires - Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Buenos Aires!

The famous Obelisco of Buenos Aires
The famous Obelisco of Buenos Aires

Welcome to Argentina! Renowned as the "Paris of South America," and the "Queen of El Plata," the capital city of Buenos Aires is defined by passion. This is exemplified in the rich tango heritage and its citizens' limitless enthusiasm for fútbol (soccer), which is by far the country's most popular sport. 

When you arrive at the airport, your driver will be waiting to take you in a private car to your hotel where you can relax after a long flight. But make no mistake: the city will beckon you. So after a quick recharge, be sure to venture out into the welcoming arms of Buenos Aires and explore. The best starting point would be the city center.

Day 2: Fly from Buenos Aires to Bariloche

Bariloche, Argentina
Bariloche, Argentina

After enjoying some exciting city life in Buenos Aires, it's time to head for the southern wilderness. At the scheduled time, a driver will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to Bueno Aires' local airport, Aeroparque. From here you'll catch a flight to San Carlos de Bariloche, the main city in Argentina's Lake District, which is home to some of the most impressive scenery in the country.

San Carlos de Bariloche was founded in 1902 on the shores of Lago Nahuel Huapi, which itself is part of the larger Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi. If you detect some native influence in that name, you're correct. It comes from the Mapuche indigenous people who once inhabited the area, and it means "jaguar island." The lake straddles the Chilean border, with the city of Bariloche located on the southeast shore. While beautiful in the summertime, Bariloche became globally famous as a prime winter ski destination. So be excited, because you're about to experience the best slopes in all of Argentina.

Upon arrival at Bariloche's airport, a driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. Even though you may be tired from your flight, try to get out and explore the city. The charming chalet-style buildings and alpine architecture can be seen and enjoyed on a brisk walk around, and the city center abounds with waterfront plazas, chocolate shops, and upscale restaurants. 

When dinnertime comes around, be sure to sample the local cuisine. You'll find that it differs considerably than what's typically found in Buenos Aires. Here regional fare like wild boar and lake trout is popular and delicious, as is the fondue (a culinary addition first introduced by the city's Swiss immigrants).

Day 3: Kayaking & Trekking on Mascardi Lake

Enjoy lunch on the shore of Lago Mascardi
Enjoy lunch on the shore of Lago Mascardi

Today is a special day with a combined excursion that mixes kayaking on Lago Mascardi with a nature trek through the forest. The adventure begins with a pickup at your hotel followed by a forty-five minute drive south of Bariloche along the famed Ruta 40 to get to the lake.

Your first destination is a lakeshore campsite owned by the local indigenous community. Here you'll jump into your kayak and begin paddling for Playa Leones, a beautiful pebble beach on Mascardi. Once you arrive at this tranquil beach, you'll be able to relax on shore and enjoy the surrounding wilderness.  

Afterward, you'll embark on a hike through native coihue forests until you reach a secluded lagoon. Then it's time to head back to Playa Leones, where you'll enjoy lunch while relaxing on the shore. Finally, you'll kayak back to the starting point and return to Bariloche in the late afternoon.

Day 4: Bariloche History & Nature Tour

Take a ride up to the top of Cerro Campanario
Take a ride up to the top of Cerro Campanario

This morning, you'll partake in an active history lesson with a guided tour in and around Bariloche. Along the way, he or she will explain the legacy of the city and its surrounding locales. This tour comprises a classic circuit that covers the city as well as some of the most famous viewpoints outside of it, like Cerro Campanario and the Llao Llao Peninsula. The former offers panoramic views of Lago Nahuel Huapi from its summit, while the latter is the site of the most impressive hotel in the country, Hotel Llao Llao

Over the course of this tour, your guide will explain how San Carlos de Bariloche evolved relatively quickly from a small mountain village into one of the most attractive and popular cities in Argentina. As you experience the natural beauty of the region and hike around its terrain, you'll begin to understand why Bariloche was voted Argentina's national capital of adventure tourism. At the end of the tour, you'll visit a local microbrewery for lunch and a beer tasting—a fun way to end the excursion!

Day 5: Rafting the Río Manso

Get ready for some rafting
Get ready for some rafting

In the morning a driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you and other passengers down Route 40 to the edge of the Nahuel Huapi National Park. Eventually, you'll arrive at John´s Camp. This Patagonian ranch near the Manso River serves as the starting point for today's river rafting excursion.

Upon arrival at John´s, you'll be struck by the beauty of the grounds. More than 50 years of work are reflected in this property, from the main house to the beautiful garden abounding with flowers and trees, all of it surrounded by an unobstructed view of Mt. Bastion. A light breakfast of coffee and croissants will be provided, and after eating your group will change into wetsuits. Then it's time for a safety talk from the head guide after which you'll embark down the Río Manso.

This stretch of the river cuts through a canyon, which is at once beautiful and challenging. The rapids here are class III and IV, so be prepared to get wet. Just the names of these rapids evoke excitement and adventure: Ozone Hole, Shout and Turn, Little Toboggan, and Scrambled Egg are some of the sections you'll brave before pulling up to the riverbank at the Chilean border. Here you'll leave the river behind, change clothes, and enjoy a bit of lunch. Afterward, you'll transfer back to Bariloche.

Day 6: Bariloche to Buenos Aires - Departure

Goodbye, Argentina!
Goodbye, Argentina!

The tour comes to an end today. A driver will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the airport to return to  Buenos Aires. You'll then go to the international airport where you'll catch your flight home.
Adios!

Map

Map of Family Adventure in Patagonia: Buenos Aires & Bariloche - 6 Days
Map of Family Adventure in Patagonia: Buenos Aires & Bariloche - 6 Days